CHARLESTON — WEIU-TV will air "Plight of the Monarch," a 22-minute documentary about the rapidly declining population of the monarch butterfly, at 6 p.m. Monday.
The documentary was made by Cindy and Kirby Pringle of Tuscola. It will air again at noon Tuesday and 1:30 p.m. Nov. 17 on the PBS affiliate.
The Pringles, professional photographers who have a studio in Tuscola, completed the film earlier this year after noticing a steep decline in the monarch population three years ago.
"This year was really bad," Kirby Pringle said. "We have friends in Canada and other parts of the United States, and they were all saying the same thing: No one was seeing monarchs, certainly not in the numbers they've been seen in the past. It's alarming."
The documentary looks at the declining population, the life cycle of the butterfly and what people can do to help reverse the trend.
At their presentations, the Pringles also talk about how to grow milkweed and how to find monarch butterfly eggs and raise them to adults for release into the wild.
The major problem facing the monarch butterfly is loss of habitat — especially common milkweed. It is the only plant on which the female monarch lays its egg. It is also the only food source for the caterpillar.
"Wipe out milkweed, and you wipe out the monarch butterfly," Kirby Pringle said. "Mowing and herbicides are a huge challenge. A major reason why we made the film is to encourage people to grow milkweed."
Said Cindy Pringle: "We've been really encouraged at the reception the documentary has been getting. We first aired it to a group at the University of Florida in March, and we've traveled throughout Illinois, showing it to different groups and organizations since then."
"Plight of the Monarch" can also be seen on YouTube. In the six months it has been available, the film has had nearly 3,400 viewings.
The Pringles three years ago started a butterfly nursery in the same building where their photography studio is located.
They are the authors of the three-book "Happy Tails" series that stars Earl and Pearl Barker. The couple use their own dogs as their models. The books are "Happy Tails: Earl and Pearl on the Farm," "Happy Tails: The Call of Nature" and "The Butterfly That Would Not Fly."
The Pringles are also restarting the Roadsides for Wildlife program with an educational website that encourages landowners not to mow roadsides for the benefit of monarch butterflies and other wildlife.